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Shakespeare's tragic Romeo & Juliet gets makeover courtesy of KC Rep production

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One of William Shakespeare’s most beloved and timeless classics, Romeo and Juliet comes to the KC Rep under the direction and creative concept of Eric Rosen, Jan 17-29 in Spencer Theater on the UMKC campus.

In Rosen’s hands, the five act play, features some creative ideas and costuming as per Rosen’s concept of the play. (See video.)

Star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, from the feuding families of the Capulets and Montagues fall hopelessly in love in a tangled tale of love, anger, revenge, tragedy, hate, and compassion.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre kicks off the second half of its season with William Shakespeare’s enduring love story Romeo and Juliet, Assisting the Rep’s Artistic Director Rosen, Chase Brock choreographs the piece. Brock’s resume includes, KC Rep, Pippin; Off-Broadway, Venice; and Broadway, Spider-Man- Turn off the Dark.

Most high school students read Romeo and Juliet, or have seen a movie of the play, so the story is familiar to most. In the midst of a bloody family feud, fragile love unfolds and two young lovers risk everything to be together.

“Rosen’s vision and dazzling direction enhance the lyrical beauty of this powerful story and brilliantly capture the enchantment of first love,” a spokesman for the Rep said.

Rosen is a writer, director and producer who has been Kansas City Rep’s artistic director since 2007. His directing projects at the Rep include Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses; The Trip to Bountiful; Clay; Winesburg, Ohio; the world premiere of A Christmas Story, The Musical! (2012 and 2013 holiday hits on Broadway and two national holiday tours); Venice (TIME Magazine’s Best Musical of 2010, world premiere at KC Rep and successful runs at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and the Public Theatre in New York) Cabaret; August: Osage County; The Whipping Man, Pippin and Death of a Salesman, according to a press release.

Rosen’s next directing project at the Rep is Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (March 14-April 6 at Spencer Theatre).

Staring as Romeo and Juliet is Jamie Default, a second year M.F.A. candidate at UMKC Department of Theatre who is making his Rep debut and has appeared in UMKC Theatre’s productions of Almost, Maine; Big Love and King Lear. Courtney Salvage plays Juliet. Salvage is a third year M.F.A. candidate at UMKC who has previously appeared at the Rep in Death of a Salesman and her UMKC Theatre productions include The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Winter’s Tale and The Lady from the Sea.

The cast also includes Zachary Andrews as Mercutio (KC Rep: A Christmas Carol; Coterie Theatre, UMKC Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Riverside Theatre Shakespeare; Michael Pauley as Tybalt (KC Rep: Death of a Salesman; Unicorn Theatre, UMKC Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Rusty Sneary as Benvolio (KC Rep: The Foreigner, Carousel, Death of a Salesman, August: Osage County, A Christmas Carol); Vincent Wagner as Paris (KC Rep: productions including Inherit the Wind, Oedipus, A Christmas Carol); David Fritts as Lord Montague/Friar John (many KC Rep August: Osage County, Bus Stop, The Foreigner, Julius Caesar); Laura Jacobs as Lady Montague (KC Rep debut, productions at UMKC Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, The Living Room, Great River Shakespeare Festival); David Castellani as Lord Capulet (KC Rep debut. Regional credits: Open Fist Theatre Company, Gangbusters Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and others); Cheryl Weaver as Lady Capulet (KC Rep: Death of a Salesman, August: Osage County, Bus Stop, A Christmas Carol, The Trip to Bountiful and many others); Merle Moores as Nurse (KC Rep includes: Death of a Salesman, August: Osage County, Machinal, Man and Superman) and Theodore Swetz as Friar Lawrence (KC Rep includes: Laughter on the 23rd Floor, King Lear, The Imaginary Invalid, Richard III, Machinal). Rounding out the cast are: Shanna Jones as Balthazar; Edwin Brown III as Servant/Apothecary; Antonio Glass as Prince Escalus and Katie Hall and Frank Oakley III as Ensemble.

In addition to director Eric Rosen, the Romeo and Juliet design and production team includes the Rep’s Associate Artistic Director Kyle Hatley (Associate Director), Chase Brock (Choreography); Jack Magaw (Scenic Design); Lindsay W. Davis and Lauren Gaston (Costume Co-design); Victor En Yu Tan (Lighting Design); Tom Mardikes (Sound Design); Andre Pluess (Composer) and John Wilson (Fight Director). The Production Stage Manager is Mary R. Honour.

Romeo and Juliet is a co-production with UMKC Theatre, with the generous support of the Hall Family Foundation.

The post-show Conversation Series discussions for Romeo and Juliet are free to the public, but a ticket is required to attend the performance. All events are at Spencer Theatre.

As part of the Rep’s education and community programs for area schools, Romeo and Juliet will have six matinee performances at Spencer Theatre. For information about the student matinee program, contact Melinda McCrary, Director of Education and Community Programs at 816-235-5708 or mccrarym@kcrep.org.

Romeo and Juliet runs Jan. 17-Feb. 9, at Spencer Theatre located in the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center at 49th and Cherry Streets on the UMKC campus in Kansas City, MO.

Ticket prices range from $20 for students to $29-$59 for adults. For ticket and performance information, call the Rep Box Office at 816-235-2700 or visit www.KCRep.org. For group ticket sales, call 816-235-6122.

Romeo and Juliet is appropriate for ages 11 and up.

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